Multiple ecological interactions between species | American Scientist

Masting, driven by cues that are poorly understood, is a reproductive pattern in which an entire population of organisms reproduce at once. Populations that are widely separated—even on different continents—often mast simultaneously.

Figure 4. Multiple ecological interactions between species in a model Eastern deciduous forest result in a trophic cascade in which the effects of acorn crop size ripple through the food web, setting off a chain of events that cause animal populations to change. Large amounts of energy (arrows) flow through the system during a mast year (right) when a large acorn crop is produced by an oak (center), causing populations of deer, mice and ticks to increase and raising the incidence of tick-borne Lyme disease (+). Populations of ground-nesting birds and gypsy moths decrease (–) owing to predation by mice. During a mast failure (left) effects of an acorn shortage on the food web are negative for acorn-eaters and their predators and positive for birds and moths, whose eggs and larvae are eaten by mice.

Our authors, drawing on their research on California oaks, compare several explanations for the masting seen in several tree species.

Pollen and seed production may be synchronized across wide geographic areas because of chemical or physical connections and large-scale weather patterns.

Masting might enhance pollination efficiency or impose a satiation-starvation cycle on seed predators, providing evolutionary advantages. Global warming may affect masting behavior, but the connections are not yet clear.

Lähde: American Scientist Online


  1. the fruit of the oak and beech or other forest trees, used as food for hogs and other animals.


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